Forum Session

Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Fundamentals of Evidence-Based Health and Introduction to the Cochrane Collaboration
July 25, 2008


Michele J. Orza, ScD


This meeting was the first in a six-part series intended to help clarify the complex set of issues bundled under the currently-in-vogue heading of “comparative effectiveness.” Although the array of public and private entities involved in the discussion of comparative effectiveness may differ on the particulars, they share a common desire to obtain better information to guide health decisions, that is, to advance evidence-based health. The Cochrane Collaboration is one of the premier global resources for evidence-based health. It is a virtual organization of more than 11,000 researchers, practitioners, and consumers in over 90 countries (including the United States) dedicated to improving health care decisions by making the best evidence available worldwide. This session featured five experts in evidence-based health who participate in the Cochrane Collaboration in various capacities. Each focused on specific aspects of the Cochrane Collaboration to illustrate the principles of evidence-based health as well as its challenges and accomplishments.

Two subsequent sessions in the series, held September 26, 2008, and October 3, 2008, examined the capacities of relevant federal agencies to support evidence-based health.


Kay Dickersin, PhD, Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director, U.S. Cochrane Center, Johns Hopkins University; Lorne A. Becker, MD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Family Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Co-chair, Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group; Roger F. Soll, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Vermont College of Medicine and Coordinating Editor, Cochrane Neonatal Review Group; Maureen P. Corry, Executive Director, Childbirth Connection; Prathap Tharyan, MD, MRCPsych, Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Director, Christian Medical College, and Director, South Asian Cochrane Network and Center, Professor BV Moses and Indian Council of Medical Research Centre for Advanced Research and Training in Evidence-based Health Care, Christian Medical College

Slides from the presentations by Dr. Dickersin, Dr. Becker, Dr. Soll, Ms. Corry, and Dr. Tharyan, are available for download.

Related Materials

For more information on the fundamentals of evidence-based health, see “Understanding Evidence-based Healthcare: A Foundation for Action” and the U.S. Cochrane Center Consumer Coalition.

For an overview of comparative effectiveness, see Gretchen A. Jacobson, "Comparative Clinical Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness Research: Background, History, and Overview" Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL34208 [available only to congressional staff through CRS, order code RL34208, from], October 15, 2007.

For a comprehensive report on evidence-based maternity care, Carol Sakala and Maureen P. Corry, "Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve", jointly published by Childbirth Connection, Reforming States Group, and Milbank Memorial Fund, 2008.

For more information on the other sessions in this series, see "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Activities of NIH, FDA, and AHRQ to Advance Evidence-Based Health" (September 26, 2008); "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Activities of CDC, VA, and CMS to Advance Evidence-Based Health" (October 3, 2008); "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Fundamentals and Controversies of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis" (October 30, 2008); "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Options for Expanding U.S. Capacity" (December 17, 2008); and "Exploring Comparative Effectiveness: Lessons from Across the States and Around the World" (February 27, 2009).

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